Regarding the History Channel’s Documentary of the Allies’ Discovery of the Holocaust — a Reminder of How Evil Builds on Selfish Unconcern — Does America’s Drone Murder Program Hint at the Same Kind of Cultural Immorality?
© 2012 Peter Free
12 November 2012
Citation — to the documentary film that this essay refers to
Nicole E. Rittenmeyer and Seth Skundrick, The Third Reich — Rise and Fall, New Animal Productions (for the History Channel) (2010) (DVD)
My point — sometimes we arguably need to remind ourselves that (a)it is not always business as usual and (b) the seeds of inhumanity lie (not so dormant) in most of us
What government commits in our name matters, ethically and spiritually.
The History Channel documentary reminds us of this principle, although it can be fairly criticized for heavy-handedness and sometimes inane editing.
The film’s most telling reference to the Holocaust begins at 03:40 minutes into the sixth and final segment of its Fall portion. The cobbled together film clips document the American Army’s discovery of Dachau in April, 1945.
If you are watching the film at TopDocumentaryFilms.com, you will have to forward through all six of the Rise segments and five of the Fall segments to get to this.
Interspersed are horrific scenes of seemingly unending windrows of Holocaust cadavers and starving death camp survivors. (Keep in mind that each of these deceased had a story identical in worth to our own.)
The producers remind us that, “There were more than 20,000 camps like Dachau throughout the Third Reich” (this quote coming at 07:07 minutes into the sixth segment of the Fall portion).
American authorities forced German civilians to tour the death scenes.
The basic spiritual principle — “It serves us right, nobody can escape this collective guilt”
So said Mathilde Wolff-Mönkenberg, Hamburg, circa 1945 (at 10:20 minutes into the sixth and final segment of the Fall portion).
We miss the message, if we think that the Holocaust was just an isolated example of human perversion
What happened under the auspices of the Third Reich was simply a more mechanized version of what human beings do to each other all the time.
With courageous imagination, I suspect that all of us can envision circumstances in which we would remain obediently silent in the face of similar government-sponsored evil, so as to protect ourselves and our own.
Evil often starts small, with omissions, rather than commissions
This is where my objection to the U.S. drone murder program comes in.
Presumably, killing terrorists is supposed to keep “us” safe. But being done as it is, without due process of any legitimate kind, means that the American public is tolerating essentially the same kind of indefensible discrimination against “others” that the Reich did on a much broader scale.
Take, for example, the Obama Administration’s cavalier idea that any young male blown up by a drone strike was automatically a terrorist. This is the equivalent of, “If I happen to kill you, you were a bad person.”
The circuitous logic defies every principle of rational thought and spiritual rectitude.
Yet, the majority of Americans reportedly approve of the President’s drone program.
The moral? — Screw up the courage to watch the final fifteen minutes of the documentary — then try to argue with my point about the evil of institutionalized drone murder
Perhaps the biggest spiritual lapse is to be unaware of, and not to guard against, our own propensities for inhumanity. Allowing government to actively do bad things in our name does not evade personal responsibility.
American history itself is full of genocide and egregious hypocrisy. We don’t need to add yet another episode of knowing wrongdoing.
I am not impressed with what “We the People” are allowing our Commander in Chief and Military Industrial Complex to get away with. Just imagine if it were your kid, who got blown up by a drone strike for no reason, other than that he was inconveniently there.
Even for an ex-cop and geopolitical realist like me, there is a distinction between self-defense and oppression. And between justifiable homicide and murder.
If our terrorist adversaries were “white” (like the Irish Republican Army was), you can be darn sure that the American drone murder program would have been terminated long ago.
This is the hypocrisy that the rest of the world sees. It is time that we saw it ourselves.